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OSHA Fines Plastics Manufacturer $274K after Severe Injuries

January 3, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed penalties of $274,934 to a New Philadelphia, OH plastics manufacturer after its investigation of a second debilitating injury suffered by an employee in less than 18 months.

The agency announced that its inspectors identified four repeated, six serious and three other-than-serious safety violations of machine safety procedures at Lauren Manufacturing after a pneumatic bench cutter severed a 27-year-old employee's finger as she cut rubber material on June 22, 2016. Inspectors found the employer did not adjust the machine's light curtains, which serve as safeguards to prevent the worker's hand from coming in contact with the machine's operating parts.

"Companies need to evaluate safety procedures to protect employees from injuries on the job," said Larry Johnson, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Particularly, they need to take a hard look at machinery operations and how workers are trained on safety."

OSHA also found the company:

•    Allowed temporary workers to operate machinery without training on proper procedures to isolate energy to operating parts during service and maintenance, a process known as "lockout/tag out"
•    Failed to develop and implement adequate lockout/tag out procedures and periodically inspect such procedures
•    Did not provide protective footwear or adequate personnel protective equipment to protect employees from burns
•    Exposed workers to live electrical contacts

The latest incident continues the company's history of preventable worker injuries and safety violations. In January 2015, OSHA cited Lauren for lack of machine safety procedures after a worker's arm was crushed in a hydraulic mold press. The agency cited the company for four safety violations in that case. With citations related to the current amputation investigation, Lauren Manufacturing has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program.

A subsidiary of Cambridge-based Lauren International, Lauren Manufacturing makes molded and extruded polymer solutions and engineered products from organic, silicone, thermoplastics, and other specialty polymers. The company also has a facility in Spring Lake, MI.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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